The Grange Ambush - 8 Nov 1920


About 50 men of 3rd Battalion East Limerick IRA paraded at 5am on a cold bleak morning. They were armed with 21 rifles and 21 shotguns, plus a small quantity of explosives. It had been decided to ambush the convoy at Grange Bridge, a point about eight miles from Limerick and about four miles from Bruff. They set out and occupied positions around John O'Neill's house. The ambush was about 4 miles from the big British garrison at Bruff to the south. They were expecting 2 British lorries at 9am, but in the end they believe 8 lorries and 2 armoured cars arrived at noon.

It was a joint action involving the flying columns of both 3rd Battalion East Limerick Brigade and the 4th Battalion Mid Limerick Brigade, supported by men from the local companies of Bruff, Grange and Holy Cross in the East Limerick Brigade and from the Fedamore and Ballybricken Companies of the Mid Limerick Brigade. Donnchadha O'Hannigan had overall command of the combined columns and most of the ambushers were placed in houses and behind walls on both sides of the road. Among the IRA men who took part in the action was their chaplain, the Curate at Fedamore. Fr. William Joseph Carroll, had been awarded the Military Cross for Bravery in 1918 by the British Army.

Also among the attackers was Maurice Meade, who had been a member of Casements Irsh Brigade in Germany

Something made the British suspicious, and they sent one lorry ahead as a decoy. This was bombed by the IRA and raked with small arms fire. A t this point a Britsh Armoured Car appeared, with an officer mounted on the running boeard firing a revolver, and the armoured cars machine firing at the IRA at close range. The IRA account ames the officer on the running board as Lt Watling, and they believe that they wounded him, and that he died in hospital at Bruff that night.

More British reinforcements appeared, and the IRA realsied that they were up against a vastly larger force than they had anticipated, so they retreated. Apart from 1 minor wounded man, they had no casualties.

The Royal Fusilier's account says while escorting a R.A.F. convoy from Fermoy to Oranmore, Lieut. Allan and 30 other ranks were ambushed at Grange, near Bruff. The rebels, however, were speedily dealt with, and a quantity of arms, ammunition and two prisoners were taken. Unfortunately, Flying Officer Watling and Bandsman Bailey were wounded, the latter seriously. The only other casualty was Private French, who was shot at when a sentry at Galbally, and had the back luck to lose his arm